“In 1949, the federal government enacted a new approach to the housing problems in cities: urban renewal. The approach was now both in philosophy- for the first time in America, government was given the right to seize an individual’s private property not for its own use but for reassignment to another individual for his use and profit- and in scope: a billion dollars was appropriated in 1949 and it was agreed that this was only seed money to prepare the ground for later, greater plantings of cash.
Most cities approached urban renewal with caution. But in New York City, urban renewal was directed by Robert Moses. By 1957, $133,000,000 of public monies had been expended on urban renewal in all the cities of the United States with the exception of New York: $267,000,000 had been spent in New York. So far ahead was New York that when scores of huge buildings constructed under its urban renewal program were already erected and occupied, administrators from other cities were still borrowing New York’s contract forms to learn how to draw up the initial legal agreements with interested developers. When Moses resigned from his urban renewal directorship in 1960, urban renewal had produced more physical results in New York than in all other American cities combined.” -From, “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and The Fall of New York” By: Robert A. Caro